Michele Simon

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Michele Simon is a public health lawyer specializing in industry marketing and lobbying tactics. She is the author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, and president of Eat Drink Politics, an industry watchdog consulting business. She is grateful to live in Oakland, Calif., within walking distance of a farmers market. You can follow her on Twitter @MicheleRSimon.

Latest Articles

When President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011, it was considered a long-fought, but significant and bipartisan, victory to update the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority and oversight of the food supply. While much of the wrangling over the language of the law was made public through media coverage of Congressional hearings, the ensuing industry influence over implementation of the law has been subject to far less…
With the disappointing results now in from I-522, the initiative in Washington state that would have required labeling of genetically engineered food (aka, GMOs), the looming question is, what’s next? At least for the junk-food lobby, that answer in painfully clear: stop this state-level movement at any cost. In last Wednesday’s New York Times, Stephanie Strom reports on the dirty details contained in industry documents that I obtained from the Washington state attorney general’s…
This editorial originally appeared on the blog of the Center for Food Safety on Oct. 15. Oct. 16 update: The Washington State attorney general’s office has filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, stating that the trade group “illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors” to the “No on 522” campaign, in violation of state disclosure laws. Read the complaint here. In the final weeks…
This past week, Michelle Obama gathered 100 food industry representatives, academic experts and public-health advocates for a “summit” at the White House to discuss junk food marketing to children. The event included public remarks by the first lady, followed by a closed-door discussion among attendees, ostensibly to come up with some solutions. Her speech was better than I had anticipated. As someone who was skeptical about the first lady’s “Let’s Move” program from the beginning,…
This editorial was originally published on Sept. 17, 2013, by the Center for Food Safety. The nation’s largest food makers’ trade group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), is donating big money to oppose I-522, but on whose behalf? Even if you haven’t heard of the GMA, you know its members: the nation’s largest food makers and those with the most at stake in the battle over genetically engineered (GE) food labeling, including soft drink…
Last week I attended a conference in Washington DC with the lofty title: “3rd Advanced Regulatory and Compliance Summit on Food & Beverage Marketing & Advertising.” The event’s main sponsor was the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, whose numerous mega-corporate food clients include Cargill, Dean Foods and Nestlé. In addition, the firm represents (under the heading of “crop protection“) Big Biotech players such as Bayer, Dow and DuPont. The presenters were almost…
Last month, I participated in an important panel at a childhood obesity conference to discuss the current strategy backed by some advocacy groups: asking industry to market “healthier” foods to children. But as Susan Linn and I recently argued, any marketing to children is harmful, regardless of the product’s nutritional content. Instead of begging corporations to tweak the grams of sugar, fat and salt that these highly processed junk foods contain, we should demand…
The latest example of how even health-conscious eaters are not immune from foodborne illness outbreaks came last week with a recall of organic frozen berries contaminated with Hepatitis A. The products were sold under the brand name of Townsend Farms at two large chains: Costco stores in the West and Harris Teeter stores in the East. The latest count from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 99 people infected in eight…
This week, Connecticut won the honor of becoming the first state to pass a law requiring genetically engineered foods to be labeled. (The governor has indicated he will sign.) It was really only a matter of time. The disappointing defeat of Prop 37 last fall in California (thanks to a massive industry disinformation campaign) sparked a national movement that has resulted in labeling bills getting introduced in about half the states. But how…
Last month, the International Food Information Council Foundation released the third edition of its report: Food Biotechnology: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding. What sounds like a reasonable and helpful document is in fact the product of a well-oiled PR machine whose board of trustees includes executives from such food giants such as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Mars. In response to such tactics, I have authored a new report for Center for Food Safety that exposes the…